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Congressman Case Praises Astronomers Who Captured Image of Black Hole

April 10, 2019, 12:18 PM HST (Updated April 10, 2019, 12:19 PM)
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Congressman Ed Case (Hawai‘i – District 1) gave the following speech on the floor of the U.S. House on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, shortly after the announcement of the scientific breakthrough—that a black hole had been photographed—at simultaneous news conferences around the world:

“Madam Speaker,
“I rise today to recognize the groundbreaking contributions of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and Submillimeter Array, located on the 13,803 feet summit of Maunakea in Hawai‘i, and celebrate their contributions to a truly international effort producing the first-ever image of a black hole.

“Part of the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, the JCMT and SMA joined six other telescopes around the globe to form an Earth-sized telescope of unprecedented power and resolution able to ‘photograph’ the supermassive black hole in the M87 galaxy. Hawai‘i’s key contribution was to place world-class telescopes in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

“Astronomers partnered with renowned Hawaiian language and cultural practitioner Dr. Larry Kimura to suggest the Hawaiian name Pōwehi, meaning embellished dark source of unending creation.

“These Hawai‘i observatories pioneered the study of black holes and, thanks to powerful new capabilities, perfect conditions atop Maunakea, and dedicated personnel, we can all look forward to more of JCMT and SMA’s cutting edge discoveries in the future, in addition to the continued growth and reputation of Hawai‘i as a world leader in exploring our heavens.”

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Case also noted the contributions of astronomy to Hawai’i education, through STEM programs in Hawai‘i schools and continued advancement of the University of Hawai‘i, and to economic development through expanding job opportunities. He also highlighted the role of federal scientific and
educational funding to Hawai‘i.

First image of the black hole Pōwehi released on April 10, 2019. PC: Event Horizon Telescope

Case, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee and on its Subcommittee on Commerce, Science and Justice overseeing much of this funding, said “astronomy plays a key role in efforts to diversify our economy.”

“We need to continue to support the world class work of these scientists not only because they work on the frontiers of discovery but because these efforts expand so many more opportunities in both the public and private sectors,” said Case.

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